Deadline Day’s wildest sagas – Mbappe, De Gea, Robinho, Liverpool’s strikers, fax machine chaos and more

Deadline Day is the day when football transfers are completed and it’s always been a chaotic day for clubs and fans alike. From the fax machine chaos, to Robinho’s switch from Real Madrid to Manchester City, here are some of the wildest sagas that have unfolded on deadline day in recent years.

The mbappe transfer is the most popular topic on Deadline Day. It was a long saga that ended with the Frenchman joining Paris Saint-Germain for an initial fee of €180m.

Three words conjure up visions of chaos: frantic efforts to organize paperwork, players and managers hoping for a deal to go through, and supporters waiting for news of a last-minute confirmation or a glitch that results in their team missing out on a key signing. It’s all about the drama, and although most major transfers go through without a hitch (see Lionel Messi’s move to PSG and Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Manchester United), there’s always the possibility of late pyrotechnics. Consider Antoine Griezmann’s surprise return to Atletico Madrid from Barcelona only minutes before the deadline on Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET / 11 p.m. BST.

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It’s always been a day that’s sure to be tense and exciting, so ESPN’s reporters dug into their notes to remember the most dramatic and spectacular tales from past deadline days involving the most expensive teams and players.

Mbappe, Rooney, De Gea, Arshavin, Robinho, Ibrahimovic, Van der Vaart, Fellaini, Ronaldo, Odemwingie, Torres, Carroll, Suarez, Milito, Milito, Milito, Milito, Milito, Milito, Milito, Milito, Milito, Milito, Milito, Milito, Milito, Milito, Milito, Mil

“You don’t determine where I’ll play,” Mbappe tells Monaco.

It is August of this year. After a great season, Kylian Mbappe is the new phenomenon in French football, sought by all of Europe’s best teams (26 goals, 14 assists in all competitions for AS Monaco). The 18-year-old, on the other hand, was content at Monaco, where he had recently won the Ligue 1 championship. He wanted to remain in the south of France for another season, play in the Champions League under Leonardo Jardim, and then join a larger club, preferably Real Madrid, for his growth.

Despite meeting PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, and legendary managers Pep Guardiola (who had recently arrived at Manchester City) and Arsene Wenger (who was nearing the end of his time with Arsenal) earlier in the summer, Mbappe informed his club that he would be staying. The issue is that Monaco had a different plan. They intended to cash in on their prodigy and had struck a deal with Real Madrid for a €180 million move. They then informed the France striker that the deal had been accepted and that he would be moving to the Bernabeu.

Kylian Mbappe was content at Monaco, but when the club informed him that a transfer bid from Real Madrid had been approved, he dug in… and finally ended up at Paris Saint-Germain. Getty Images/FRANCK FIFE/AFP

The club was tense as a result of this. Mbappe was enraged that Monaco was attempting to push him out of the club and selecting his future destination for him. He turned out Real Madrid in favor of joining PSG, who had been in touch with him and his family throughout the summer. “You do not get to choose where I will perform. I am the only one who can make a decision “He informed Monaco’s top authorities.

Monaco was hesitant to let him move to a direct rival for the Ligue 1 championship, thus the issue got even more heated. Mbappe and his manager, Jardim, had a falling out, and the club’s president refused to play. Finally, on the morning of August 31, the two French teams agreed on a €180 million deal. It would be structured as a one-year loan with an obligation to sign a permanent deal for €145 million, paid in two payments of €90 million and €55 million, with an additional €35 million if Mbappe left Paris before the conclusion of his five-year contract or if he extended his time there.

Mbappe signed his deal and became a PSG player at 7 p.m. local time on deadline day, only hours before the window closed. Laurens, Julien

Man United make an early bid for Wayne Rooney.

Wayne Rooney thought he was ready to leave Everton in the summer of 2003, but he decided to remain after another year at Goodison Park and then playing for England at Euro 2004.

He went to visit then-Everton manager David Moyes to explain his choice when he was 18, but was informed that he would have to submit a transfer request if he wanted to leave. Rooney went over to the canteen and scribbled it down on a piece of paper.

Everton needed the money and wanted Rooney to talk to Chelsea, who were willing to pay the most, but the striker only wanted to play at Old Trafford. United had intended to wait until the summer of 2005 to acquire Rooney, but the player’s desire to change clubs pushed them to act when Rooney and Everton started talks with Newcastle instead.

Rooney agreed to spend the 2004-05 season at St James’ Park with Newcastle manager Sir Bobby Robson before joining United provided a release condition was fulfilled. Sir Alex Ferguson convinced his board to move their plans ahead, and on deadline day in 2004, United completed a £20 million purchase with a further £7 million in add-ons, making Rooney the most expensive teenager in history. Rob Dawson’s comment

In 2004, Wayne Rooney was the hottest ticket in town, and Manchester United rushed in to buy him when they were on the verge of losing him to Newcastle. PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images/Gareth Copley

De Gea’s failed transfer to Real Madrid

Manchester United and Real Madrid have yet to agree on who is to blame for David de Gea’s bungled transfer from Old Trafford to the Bernabeu on deadline day in 2015.

United manager Louis van Gaal suspended his goalkeeper, who had a year remaining on his contract at the time, for the first six games of the season, fearing De Gea’s mind was elsewhere following a summer of rumors about a transfer to LaLiga. Real Madrid did not start talking about signing the Spain goalkeeper until the morning of the deadline day. United agreed to a deal provided Keylor Navas was included in the opposite direction. Navas was set to go to Old Trafford for £29.5 million just after noon, but the deal fell through at the last minute.

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Real Madrid claimed that United delivered the papers late due to a malfunctioning fax machine, but United maintained that the Spanish giants were to blame since they provided Navas’ Costa Rican passport information rather than his Spanish credentials. It meant Navas couldn’t go to Manchester for a medical examination.

United assumed Real Madrid had gotten cold feet at that time and that the transaction would fall apart before the fax problem was brought up. Next the collapse, both clubs issued statements the following morning claiming the other side was to blame. The next week, De Gea signed a new long-term deal at Old Trafford, and three years later, Real Madrid eventually moved on by signing Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois. Dawson’s words

The Arsenal deal that revolutionized the way deadline day was handled

After a blizzard, a one-word email, and several late faxes, Andrey Arshavin, center, reconfigured his deadline day. Manchester United/John Peters/Getty Images

The transfer of Andrey Arshavin from Zenit St Petersburg to Arsenal in 2009 completely changed the game. This classic deadline-day drama was subsequently highlighted as one of the reasons the Premier League adopted a deal sheet to assist formalize the paperwork involved in moves.

The Gunners had been interested in Arshavin for some time, but Zenit was adamant about their £15 million asking price, which Arsenal was reluctant to pay. Due to severe snowstorms that hit the nation on Feb. 1, making travel across the country difficult, the transfer deadline was extended back by 24 hours so that transactions could be completed.

Agents Jon and Phil Smith, aware of the coming weather, got Arshavin to London shortly before the severe snowstorm, but the two teams had yet to reach an agreement. Because Russia was three hours ahead of London, Zenit scheduled a last meeting for 3 p.m. UK time to attempt to break the impasse. Arsenal’s highest bid was £13.8 million, therefore no progress was made.

With 40 minutes to go before the deadline, Jon Smith stepped in and offered the additional £1.2 million personally, knowing that his commission would nearly cover it, but betting on Arsene Wenger and the club’s desire to avoid missing out on a crucial acquisition. Zenit wrote out the contract and submitted it to Arsenal shortly after, wanting the full £15 million.

Ivan Gazidis, the Gunners’ chief executive, phoned Smith shortly before 5 p.m. UK time.

“How much did you charge me?” Gazidis explained.

Smith said, “I’ve just promised them £1.2 million.”

After then, there was a lengthy gap. “All OK,” Gazidis replied.


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Formal documentation was needed to show Arsenal and Zenit had accepted terms in order to comply with transfer rules. Despite the fact that Gazidis and Zenit exchanged emails, the Premier League only recognized physical copies as evidence. Gazidis was instructed to send the required paperwork to Zenit’s administrator, Pavel, but Zenit’s fax machine was broken.

The clock struck 4:59 p.m. in the United Kingdom. Gazidis and Pavel received an email from Smith.

Smith wrote, “Pavel, Ivan is about to give you something.” “Just send an email to Ivan and myself with the word ‘agreed’ in the subject line.”

After a frenetic refresh of the inbox, the email came with four seconds to spare.

Arsenal had to wait for the Premier League and the Football Association to examine the email trail until the next day. The transaction did not satisfy the necessary criteria for a transfer since it lacked tangible documentation, but a special exception was granted because of the one-word email: “Agreed.” James Olley’s quote

Robinho, welcome! The new era of Manchester City kicks off with a boom.



Mark Ogden discusses why Cristiano Ronaldo chose to return to Manchester United rather than join Manchester City.

1 September 2008. There has never been a deadline day like it, with Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan’s £210 million takeover of Manchester City turning the football world on its head — with players boarding planes without knowing which club they were signing for, and chaotic scenes at the Etihad Stadium almost leading to a bid for Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

Sheikh Mansour’s entrance on the scene, after the mid-morning conclusion of his City purchase, altered everything. Chelsea were closing in on Real Madrid striker Robinho, while Manchester United were expected to sign Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham for £27 million. Spare a thought for City’s Croatian defender Vedran Corluka, who signed an £8.5 million deal with Tottenham an hour before Sheikh Mansour took over.

City were in such desperate need of cash under outgoing owner Thaksin Shinawatra that Corluka had to relocate just in case Sheikh Mansour’s takeover fell through. However, by midday, City had been transformed into a club ready to compete with the might and wealth of Chelsea and United for top targets and make a massive statement of intent.

City unexpectedly outbid United for Berbatov, paying Spurs £30 million for the Bulgarian striker. Nobody knew whether Berbatov was flying to Old Trafford or the Etihad when he boarded an aircraft from London to Manchester early in the afternoon, but he had no worries. “My agent said, ‘Man City has shown interest,’ but I replied, ‘Man, please, you know where I want to go, just one way,’” Berbatov told MUTV.

Despite Spurs’ furiously trying to contact Old Trafford chief executive David Gill to say they had only granted Man City permission to talk to Berbatov, and not United, United went through with the transaction.

“Despite all the commotion and conjecture outside Old Trafford, the atmosphere inside the club’s offices was really very calm,” a top United official told ESPN. “We were just concerned with completing the papers and keeping a distance from the rest of the proceedings. While the legalities were being completed, I was watching reruns of ‘Frasier’ in my office, but our supporters were still worried about City beating us to the player.”

When Robinho departed Real Madrid on Deadline Day in 2008, he believed he was joining Chelsea. He ended up to Manchester City as a result of some late drama. Manchester City FC/Ed Garvey/Getty Images)

After learning that Berbatov only wanted to join United, who would now have to spend £30.75 million to complete the deal, City shifted their focus to sabotaging Chelsea’s attempt to acquire Brazil’s Robinho, but not before another player’s name came up.

One City source told ESPN that “all kinds of late offers were being made.” “The owners wanted to make a huge deal to demonstrate they were serious, so they suggested a number of names and players. ‘This is getting nasty,’ remarked one senior figure, leading a member of staff to draft a fax to Barcelona for Lionel Messi. Before the fax was issued, the error was corrected!”

City made their approach to get Robinho at 8 p.m. UK time, outbidding Chelsea and paying a then-British record £32.5 million for the striker. Before heading to the airport, Robinho told reporters that he was “delighted to accept Chelsea’s proposal,” only to be corrected about where he was really going. “Sorry, Manchester,” he admitted.

According to a top United official, there was one more twist to a wild day. “Fraizer Campbell, one of our young strikers, was on his way to Hull to complete a transfer, but Spurs realized they needed a replacement and didn’t have one after spending so much time negotiating for Berbatov,” he said. “As a result, Fraizer had to do a U-turn and go to Tottenham instead.” ‘Mark Ogden’

In 2004, Ibrahimovic joins Juventus.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had been attempting to get out of Ajax for the whole summer, but the club refused to budge. So, at the request of Juve’s sports director, Ibrahimovic “launched a battle” inside the club, skipping training sessions and getting into a spat with midfielder Rafael Van der Vaart, according to his agent Mino Raiola.

Ajax, on the other hand, was unyielding. They wanted €20 million for the Sweden international, but Juve only offered €12 million. Raiola advised Zlatan to continue his “battle” with the club, despite the fact that they’d received better offers from other clubs (Lyon and Roma) at the time. Ajax’s reaction was that it would be better if Zlatan never played for the club again than for him to force a transfer for a low-ball offer.

As the clock ticked down to the deadline, it was a classic game of chicken. Who would be the first to blink? The agreement was struck in the closing hours of the window, with the clubs agreeing on a price of €16 million. Zlatan departed, but two weeks later, when the two teams were drawn together in the Champions League, he returned. Marcotti, Gab

Tottenham make a bold move to sign Van der Vaart.

Every summer and winter, manager Harry Redknapp would reach out of his vehicle window and offer the waiting television cameras any hint of the potential transfer activity happening on inside, and this became associated with deadline day. Redknapp, when managing Tottenham in the summer of 2010, delivered his afternoon car-window judgment that everything was calm and Spurs were done in the market.

What a blunder he made. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is renowned for leaving things to the last minute, and he saw a chance to pull off a big coup at the eleventh hour when Bayern Munich’s pursuit of Real Madrid’s Rafael van der Vaart stopped. Levy seized on Real’s need for cash and obtained an agreement for only £8 million within hours of Redknapp’s genuine assurance that nothing was happening.

Later, Redknapp claimed Bayern had offered £18 million, an allegation rejected by Real. In any case, the drama was far from over. Spurs were forced to seek special permission after the Premier League received the required papers two hours late due to a faulty computer used in processing the paperwork. The move was approved when it was determined that the two clubs had reached an agreement before the 6 p.m. deadline. Olley says:



Julien Laurens discusses how Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will use Cristiano Ronaldo.

Fellaini, how are you? Woodward’s first transfer window was a whirlwind.

When questioned about the last day of Ed Woodward’s first transfer window in control of Manchester United’s moves in August 2013, a source told ESPN, “It was an utter horror show.” “Ed expected to get Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, or Cesc Fabregas, but he ended up with Marouane Fellaini three minutes before the transfer window closed.”

At Old Trafford, the summer of 2013 was the perfect storm. Sir Alex Ferguson had retired, and long-serving chief executive David Gill had chosen to step down, putting David Moyes in charge and Woodward as his successor. Woodward wanted a major acquisition to show he could get the best players and to give Moyes a big name, but United wasted time on fantasy-level signings due to Woodward’s inexperience and Moyes’ prudence in the transfer market.

Fabregas kept United in the game for a month before signing a new contract with Barcelona, while Ronaldo used a similar strategy before signing a new contract with Real Madrid. Bale, on the other hand, wanted to leave Spurs for Real, but Woodward believed he had a plan.

“Ed wanted David Beckham to say something for us,” an ESPN insider said. “However, since David had significant ties to Real, his staff made certain that he remained away from that specific concept.”

Woodward had departed United’s summer tour of Australia in mid-July to do “important transfer business,” but by deadline day, he still hadn’t made a single deal, with bids for midfielder Daniele De Rossi and defender Leighton Baines both falling through. So, with the clock ticking, United paid £27.5 million for Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini, despite the player being available for £23.5 million less than a month earlier due to a release clause in his Everton contract.

Due to a failure to complete the paperwork on time, a late effort to acquire Real Madrid full-back Fabio Coentrao fell through, leaving United with only one new signing in a summer that was supposed to herald the arrival of a slew of stars. Ogden, Utah

Ronaldo moved from Inter to Real Madrid in 2002.

In 2002, Ronaldo’s transfer to Real Madrid came down to the wire as his previous club, Inter Milan, battled to find a successor before allowing him to go. Getty Images/CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP

Ronaldo had recovered from two severe knee injuries to lead Brazil to World Cup triumph in 2002, attracting the attention of Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who sought another Galactico star acquisition after acquiring playmakers Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo in the previous two summers.

Inter’s coach at the time, Hector Cuper, had a falling out with Ronaldo, and club president Massimo Moratti had failed to make amends. Moratti, on the other hand, was not going to be pushed into making a decision. Inter needed to find a successor, and Real needed to pony up big bucks — or, as one Inter executive put it, “They had to sell the training field to get Zidane, and they’d have to sell the Bernabeu itself to sign Ronaldo.”

With registration for the Champions League concluding at midnight on Aug. 31, Moratti stated the day before that Ronaldo had a 99 percent probability of remaining. Inter had asked for €40 million for his successor, and Madrid’s bids were too low. Inter, on the other hand, got a €46 million offer overnight, which they accepted on the condition that they could get Argentina striker Hernan Crespo from Lazio; sure enough, the next morning, they had a deal in place for Crespo (€26 million + Italian forward Bernardo Corradi).

Ronaldo sat in Moratti’s office, waiting for the papers to be signed. And then I waited. And then they waited some more.

Why? Because Corradi was the stumbling block. Hours passed, and the deal was completed with seconds to spare when he decided to join Lazio, allowing Crespo to join Inter and Ronaldo to join Real Madrid. Marcotti’s words

Odemwingie gets in his vehicle and drives about looking for a new club.

In 2013, Peter Odemwingie was at the center of a remarkable deadline day snafu. Getty Images/Matthew Ashton/AMA/Corbis

In the ultimate car-related deadline day disaster, Redknapp was just a bystander. Peter Odemwingie had a modest journeyman career, with stops at Lille, Lokomotiv Moscow, West Bromwich Albion, Cardiff City, and Stoke City, finishing with 36 goals in 129 Premier League appearances in 2018. However, he will be remembered for a transfer he never made.

By the winter of 2013, Odemwingie had spent three years at West Brom and wanted to join Redknapp’s Queens Park Rangers for £3 million. And he was eager to participate. West Brom’s desire to acquire QPR winger Junior Hoilett on loan as part of the deal caused talks between the two teams to break down. They also demanded that QPR pay Hoilett’s salary, which sparked a lengthy standoff that lasted far into the night.

Odemwingie took things into his own hands after being reportedly pressured by his agent to break the stalemate. Despite having a week-old child at home, he risked a dreary January evening to travel two hours to QPR’s Loftus Road stadium in an attempt to push a deal through. When he arrived, however, the two teams claimed that no price had been agreed upon, and he was denied entrance to the stadium since he did not have authorization to meet with his prospective new employers.

Odemwingie was forced to park outside the stadium as talks proceeded, much to his chagrin, but that didn’t stop him from giving a short interview.

“It’s not finished 100 percent,” he added, “but I think West Brom will be pleased with what they receive.” “Of course, they’re trying to recruit players themselves, so I’m just hoping for a good last few hours.”

They didn’t do it. Without a deal, the deadline passed, and Odemwingie was forced to return to the Midlands.

“Perhaps he was [badly] told he should show up,” Redknapp said, while QPR CEO Phillip Beard added, “he came down to London thinking a contract would have been done [but] sadly we didn’t get to that point so we weren’t able to speak to Peter at all.” Following that, he had an uncomfortable six months at West Brom, where he was virtually shut out, until joining Cardiff City in August 2013. Olley says:

Liverpool lose Torres but acquire Suarez and Carroll in the process.

On Liverpool’s deadline day in the winter of 2011, one of the club’s most popular strikers left and two arrived. Only Luis Suarez, on the right, would be a success at Anfield. Getty Images/PA Images/Peter Byrne

Fernando Torres, Andy Carroll, and Luis Suarez were the three attackers on Jan. 31, 2011.

Torres wanted a transfer away from Liverpool after becoming dissatisfied there, despite being a big fan favorite since joining from Atletico Madrid in 2007. Chelsea would eventually complete a £50 million deal for Torres in the closing minutes of the window, setting the record for the most expensive Premier League player at the time, although the move was merely postponed to allow Liverpool to replace the Spain international with the profits of the sale.

Suarez came in the early evening in a £22.7 million move from Ajax, but the Uruguayan was viewed as a risk after a tumultuous time in the Netherlands, where he served a seven-match suspension for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal two months before. Carroll, the other newcomer, was regarded as a long-term investment after becoming the most expensive English player of all time by leaving Newcastle for £35 million.

Many Liverpool supporters saw Torres’ departure as a hammer blow, but the striker went on to have a terrible four years at Stamford Bridge, with his finest years obviously having been spent at Anfield. Carroll failed to justify his purchase price, scoring only 11 goals in 58 appearances before being sold to West Ham 18 months later.

Suarez, on the other hand, was a big success, despite the fact that he was dogged by scandal during his three years at Liverpool, where he scored 82 goals in 133 appearances before departing for Barcelona in a £65 million move in 2014. Ogden, Utah

Zaragoza to Genoa, by Diego Milito, 2008.

The Italian Serie A transfer window closed at 7 p.m. in 2008. On September 1st, local time will be used. The entrance of the makeshift league office put up at a hotel where the last days of transfer transactions took place closed at 7 p.m., and you were either in or out.

Directors from Genoa had been waiting outside for a little miracle: a fax from Zaragoza confirming the agreement to bring striker Diego Milito back.

Milito had been the star of their promotion to Serie A three years before, but he had to be sold when Genoa’s promotion was revoked due to a match-fixing inquiry. He now wanted to return and had turned down a Spurs offer to do so.

Milito’s representatives raced to the league office to register him when the fax came at 6:55 p.m., but it was closed by the time they arrived. Officials from the club were inside, waiting in line to register the players they had recently signed. The door was being blocked by security. At two minutes past seven, the agent Federico Pastorello, thinking on his feet and knowing that the “office” was simply a modular cubicle with no roof, tossed the papers over the wall. Fortunately for him, Genoa directors were in line to accept it inside. Pastorello was penalized subsequently, but the transaction went through nonetheless.

Milito would go on to lead Inter to a historic Serie A, Coppa Italia, and Champions League treble under Jose Mourinho two years later. Marcotti’s words

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